Dumas dissatisfied with $2.58b allocation for Tobago

Reginald Dumas. 
Reginald Dumas. FILE PHOTO -

RETIRED head of the public service Reginald Dumas says he is dissatisfied with Tobago’s $2.58 billion allocation in the 2024 budget.

He said although Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the island had received $64.2 million more than its previous allocation, it still was not enough to fund the kind of development Tobago needs, especially since the bulk of it, $2.298 billion, was for recurrent expenditure.

The island also got $18 million for its Unemployment Relief Programme and $9.2 million for Cepep.

Dumas described as “condescending,” Imbert’s statement that he “endorsed in principle,” the THA’s policy prescriptions contained in its June budget.

The policy outlined 15 keys areas for development, including strengthening the governance and constitutional framework between the THA and the central government, digitisation of the THA through institutional strengthening, enhancing the THA’s fiscal and financial management systems and economic stimulation through enhanced assistance to businesses adversely affected by covid19.

Dumas said he hopes the overall allocation is not reflective of the “deteriorating relationship” between the THA and central government.

“I wouldn’t want to think that Scarborough is being punished in any way by Port of Spain because of the tensions between the Chief Secretary (Farley Augustine) and Prime Minister,” he told Newsday.

Nevertheless, Dumas said the allocation should encourage Tobagonians to become more self-reliant.

Referring to the recent absence of the Cabo Star cargo vessel from the sea bridge, he said, “To simply say that the boat with supplies from Trinidad didn’t come and the supermarket shelves are bare is not good enough.”

He said Tobagonians used to be far more self-reliant.

“There should be a return to the old days. Tobago used to be considered the breadbasket of Trinidad and Tobago several decades ago. It is ridiculous to think that now Tobago depends so heavily on Trinidad.”

Dumas also welcomed plans to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65. He said the country’s population is aging.

“If you look at the statistics you will see that the number of people in the age group 15-40 is dropping and the number of people 60 and over is increasing which is why the NIB is finding itself in financial difficulties.”

He added, “The revenue stream has slowed down considerably because the people who were supposed to be funding the scheme, the younger people are dropping in numbers. They are not having fewer children and a lot of people are emigrating. And so the older ones who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the payments by the younger ones, are increasing in number.”

In the budget, Imbert told the Parliament there would be more consultations on actuarial recommendations to defer the retirement age to 65 to narrow the gap between contributions and claims on the National Insurance Board pension fund.

On the Christmas back pay for some 37,000 public servants who had accepted the government’s four per cent wage offer, Dumas predicted the public service will be split.

“Those who have so far not accepted the four per cent will be jealous of those who are receiving something. So it will do nothing for stability and morale in the public service.”


"Dumas dissatisfied with $2.58b allocation for Tobago"

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